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Google Lets You Delete the Last 15 Minutes of Search History

A photo of a person holding an iPhone up with the Google Search app opened to the Search history settings

Once the update rolls out to your iOS device, you’ll see an option pop up that lets you delete the last 15 minutes of your search activity.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry / Gizmodo

In its never-ending quest to convince users that it has privacy top of mind, Google is rolling out a quick auto-delete control to scrub the last 15 minutes of your mobile search history. The feature is arriving on iOS devices first, with the option coming to Android devices later this year.

The 15-minute scrub was originally announced at Google I/O 2021 as an additional option for the existing auto-delete feature. You can choose to have your data auto-delete every three, 18, or 36 months through your profile page in the Google Search app. Or, you can now choose 15 minutes.

iPhone and iPad users who already have access to the feature will see it pop up in the Google app for iOS. Tap on your profile avatar photo to find the button for deleting the last 15 minutes under Search history. It’s a bit more satisfying to use this feature to delete data than flipping into incognito mode, and it helps in a pinch if you realize that your latest obsession with Googling cults is not something you want to feed the algorithm.

A render showing the Google Search app on an iPhone

A look at what the option will look like when it’s live on your iOS device.
Image: Google

Google is also pointing its users to the Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup features, both of which are handy ways to see which third parties you’ve granted access to your Google account over the years. I recently went through and removed a bunch from services I hadn’t touched in nearly half a decade. You’ll have to set aside some time to mull through the settings and see what Google suggests you tweak, but a little time can pay off in securing your account in the long run.

Lastly, Google is rolling out the ability to lock the My Activity page behind an extra sign-in page. If you’re sharing a device with your kids, for instance, they won’t have access to what you were looking up earlier in the day. Because maybe Mommy (it’s me) has really gone down a cult rabbit hole, and some of those Google search results should not be seen by innocent eyes.

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